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La Paella

La Paellaicon

Chronicle Booksicon, 2006
144 pages
30 recipes
40 full-color images


La Paella

Deliciously Authentic Rice Dishes from Spain’s Mediterranean Coast

Paella is Spain’s most cherished and emblematic dish. Festive and fun, it’s made with an ever-changing combination of ingredients including chicken, rabbit, wild mushrooms, mussels, fish, and shrimp, and is perfect for serving to groups, adapting easily to any size gathering. (As the Spanish say, “The more we will be, the more we will laugh” – a perfect motto for paella.)

The book details out the origins of this crowd-pleasing dish and gives all the detailed information you need to make a perfect one at home. Here you can find paella’s wide variations, from the original Paella Valenciana – with chicken, rabbit, three kinds of beans, and snails – to the shellfish paella that my Catalan mother-in-law has been making nearly every weekend for forty years.

Paellas, though, aren’t the only traditional Spanish rice dishes. Moister – even soupy – rices slow-simmered to perfection in cazuelas (shallow terracotta casseroles) are here, too, including two of my favorites, a luscious soupy rice of lobster and an earthy one of duck and chanterelles. And for dessert there is a creamy, cinnamon and citrus infused rice pudding.

In addition to the recipes, there is a handy source list for unusual ingredients and special equipment, as well as a selection of restaurants in Spain where you can enjoy the finest authentic paellas.

The New York Times named it one of the noteworthy cookbooks published in 2006.

The Seattle Times did a feature piece on the book in the September 6, 2006, edition, and called me “a natural writer and storyteller” who “pays homage [to Spain’s defining dish] with a collection of distinctive recipes.”

The Book-of-the-Month Club’s The Good Cook said:
“I love cookbooks that tell me things I didn’t know, so this book was pure joy, full of fascinating tidbits about everything paella —the pan, the people who make it, the passionate debates over the very meaning of the word. Jeff Koehler is one of those wonderful writers who gets you excited not just about the food but about the whole experience surrounding it, and I love his warm but author- itative tone:
‘Spain’s most famous and cherished dish is full of ritual and myth, tricks and techniques, and strict rules (Never stir the rice! Never cover while cooking!), yet open to interpretation and argument about what it can or can’t include.’

But as useful as the basics he provides are—the tips on equipment and techniques—it’s really the food that is, in the end, the star of the show. Such a broad range of tastes and textures— I know you’ll be delighted.”

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All text and images are ©Jeff Koehler 2007-2009 and cannot be used without his written permission.